Thursday, 2 February 2012

Reasons to be Fearful

This time next week, I’m going to be on a plane to Goa. As I write this, we should be just taking off. Around 17 hours later, I’ll be arriving at the yoga retreat where I’ll be spending 10 days doing downward dogs (not a euphemism) in 27 degree heat, interspersed with lying in the sunshine, taking photographs, reading novels, writing my book, paddling in the sea and dozing off whenever I like.

I should be ecstatic, right?

I mostly am… well, I partly am… but what I am more is terrified. A large part of me is wishing I had never had this idea, never spent my tax return on this crazy trip, that instead I was going to be in freezing London where I’m safe and I know people. Pathetic, right?

The thing is… I’m doing this holiday on my own. That’s what the difference is. And one is the loneliest number, right? I asked various friends of mine if they wanted to come on this trip with me, but no-one could afford it. I wouldn’t normally be able to afford this but, like I said, I got a tax return. At the time, I had this crazy idea that perhaps going on my own might be better anyway – more character building. This was when it was so far in the future that it felt like it was never going to really happen… now that it’s next week, I’m not so sure. I think my character is actually built plenty enough already, thank you.

As you may have picked up, oh constant reader, I am a very anxious person. If I tell you that I get nervous going on buses because I’m pretty sure I’ll get off at the wrong stop and then get so lost that I have to become a street person and live off the crumpled tissues that reside at the bottom of my bag (and trust me, as close as dammit, this has happened several times... sort of), that will give you an idea of how many, many things there are to be nervous about on this trip.

Weirdly, it’s not so much the flights that are worrying me as I'm told it’s pretty much impossible to miss your stop on a plane. Plus, you’d have to be trying really hard to get on entirely the wrong plane… so that’s most of my worries on the travelling front out of the sealed shut window. Once I’m on the plane, I’ll be fairly happy with my book and my bag of snacks. I am feeling pretty worried about the six hour stopover in Mumbai on the way, mostly because I can’t stop picturing scenarios in which I fall asleep and miss the second plane, or in which my bag gets nicked… but the flying itself doesn’t worry me.  It doesn’t help that I called the airline yesterday to check something strange on the ticket they had sent me only to discover that all my flights had been cancelled and I’d been booked onto new ones without anyone telling me, but actually, this means I’ve got longer out there, so it’s a good thing really.

No, my fears are all based around when I get there. Here is a selection of some of things I’m fretting about:

  • What if I can’t find the transfer coach that's taking me to the resort and have to eek out the rest of my days roaming a Goan airport with only security guards for friends, like that Tom Hanks film?
  • What if I don’t like the yoga teachers, or the yoga is really hard, and I feel like an idiot compared to all the sleek and pretty yogis that can do pigeon for five hours and glide straight into headstands as if they're walking up the stairs?
  • What if I can’t find any vegetarian, wheat-free food with no chilis in it? (This is a real worry... perhaps I have been pretty stupid going to India when I really can’t stand spicy-hot food… Part of me is thinking maybe I should suck it up (literally) and try to get used to chillis, after all, they would probably help me lose weight what with their, ahem, side effects, but the thing is, as well as me really not liking them, they make me hiccup, which is just not cool at all! I really don’t want to spend the whole 10 days hiccupping!)
  • What if I go out somewhere and get lost and can’t get back ‘home’?
  • What if I get ill while I’m on my own out there, and no-one is around to look after me?
  • And this – the big one – what if I don’t make any friends?
To a certain extent, I am fond of my own company. I need a bit of time to myself each week, or I go a bit crazy. But something I have learnt about myself over the past few years is that if I’ve been alone all day, and then I have to be alone all night as well, that, too, makes me go a bit crazy from listening to my own thoughts for too long, since my own thoughts inevitably turn to despair sooner rather than later. And that’s just for one day… ten days like that might actually push me over the edge. That’s my biggest fear. And that’s what makes me keep wondering why I decided to spend an extortionate amount of money on potentially making myself feel ridiculously lonely and depressed and far away from anyone who loves me.

People keep telling me I’m going to meet people and make friends, and my god, I hope they’re right. Everyone always says that they made loads of friends ‘when I went travelling,’ which is craziness as 10 days in a yoga retreat is clearly not travelling… and I’d sooner tear my ears off with my bare hands than go actual travelling, imagine the kittens I’d be having on a daily basis… but still, I’m sure people will be friendly. And we can all talk about yoga, even if nothing else, right?

Hilariously, the other thing I’m worried about is that some people will want to be my friend too much and I won’t be able to shut them up while I’m trying to read. I’m not looking for much out of these mythical holiday friends… just people who will be happy to lie in the sun next to me and alternate trips to the bar during the day, and then go out for dinner at night. Maybe people who want to go shopping, or find a prettier beach. I’m not big on going exploring all over the place.

People hear me say that I’m not planning on going sight-seeing (and this is whenever I go anywhere, not just Goa) and they look at me like I’ve just stabbed their baby. We talk about, I don’t know, racism against Romanies or discrimination against chubby people as being the last taboo, but I swear to god, it’s actually the idea that you could go on holiday and not be very interested in seeing the sights. People get personally upset by it, as if I’ve dropped my trouser and pants and had a wee in their church. Come now! To each their own, surely?  

Here’s my thinking… to me, the very very best thing in the world is lying in the sun with a book. This is better than anything else – sex, DJing, good food, being drunk, taking photos, writing… it cannot be beaten. So to me, the idea of wasting the tiny amount of days I have a in year where I can do that by trekking around somewhere getting too hot and worrying about being ripped off for tourist tat that you don’t even want anyway seems like the crazy idea.

It’s true that I want to take some beautiful photos, and I might go further afield for that, but the main things I like taking photos of are skies, sunrises, sunsets, water, beaches and, sometimes, people… I’m not gonna need to go very far for all those things. I’m perfectly happy to get up at 4am a couple of mornings to get some great photos on the beach that will be outside my window, but I’m a lot less interested in carrying all that heavy camera stuff somewhere busy to again worry about stuff getting nicked and look like a horrible rich tourist (which I clearly am, but I'm not in any rush to look the part) while climbing up mountains or going to markets or churches or whatever else it is you frenzied sight seers love to do.  

One thing is certain, and that’s that I’m sure I’ll be writing blogs aplenty about my trip. Here’s hoping they are full of sunshine and happiness rather than gloom and fear. I’m sure they will be… after all, nothing is ever as bad as you think it’s going to be, is it? And I’m going to be in 27 degree sun… even I can’t feel too sorry for myself there.

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